Overcoming the Male-Dominated Culture of UBFriends

When this website was launched in the summer of 2010, we had a grandiose vision of a cyber-cafe where people of many different backgrounds could meet and connect with one another. A safe haven where we could discuss all sorts of issues pertinent to UBF and to life beyond. A place where new friendships would form and grow.

That has happened. God has blessed us with lots of interesting articles and lively discussion. Even during the recent holiday period, when our pace of publishing slowed down to less than one new article per week, we were still averaging about 50 site visits per day by readers from all over the world.

But one aspect of UBFriends has been gnawing at my conscience: the overwhelming majority of posts and comments have been written by males.

At present, we have some nice articles in the queue witing to be published. The articles are thoughtful, interesting, and provocative. But they were authored by men. When they appear on UBFriends, I suspect that they will generate lots of lively comments by our male readers but not by women. This is one reason why I am hesitating to press the “Publish” button. I don’t want to do anything that will unwittingly reinforce our image as an all-boys club.

What has happened to the fairer sex?

Perhaps women have become disinterested because the content of the articles does not appeal to them. Perhaps UBFriends articles have become overly abstract. I have learned from experience that when conversations turn to ideas, doctrines, and principles, women start to yawn and bow out. That’s a huge oversimplification, of course. I don’t want to be guilty of stereotyping. But there are significant differences between men and women in how they think. I have heard from reliable sources — and seen by personal observation — that men fall in love with principles much more readily than women do, whereas women tend to be focused on relationships and people. When discussing a problematic issue in ministry, men are likely to wonder, “If we do such-and-such, what kind of message are we sending to our members, and what kind of precedent are we setting?” But women are likely to wonder, “If we do such-and-such, what impact will it have on the significant persons in my life?” (Both of these perspectives are important. Men and women truly need each other.)

Or perhaps the style of our communication is subconsciously hushing women up. I have seen how this happens. I have sat through meetings where most of the people sitting around the conference table are men, except for one or two women. If those women are not accustomed to working in a predominantly male environment and have not adapted themselves to male styles of verbal and nonverbal communication, they tend to just sit by and watch. Similarly, I have attended meetings where I am the only male surrounded by females. In those settings, I feel out of place and tend to just keep quiet and listen. It’s hard to pinpoint how the ethos of a male-dominated forum differs from a female-dominated one. But these differences are real and instinctively felt.

It is interesting to speculate about why UBFriends has become male-dominated.

But it is more important to ask: What should we do about it?

One solution is to publish more articles authored by women. That is something we would love to do. If any women would like to contribute articles to UBFriends, please email them to us (admin@ubfriends.org) and we will put them at the head of the queue. If you are unsure about your ability to write and express yourself, please don’t worry. We can help you to revise or edit your piece as needed.

Another solution is for the men who are contributing to UBFriends to become more attuned to how their content and style is perceived by women. If you have the urge to write something, perhaps you can show it to your wife, daughter, sister, etc. and ask them what they think. Consider co-authoring a piece with them.

If you have any suggestions on how to make UBFriends a more welcoming place for women, please let us know.


  1. Jennifer Stumpf

    Hello Everybody,

    Our chapter here in Canada studied the book of Hosea a while back and I guess it was since then my thoughts about God’s characteristics and esp Jesus has been kind of expanding. With Hosea it stood out that God relates to his people as a husband. Or how in Song of Songs, what a love poem! But I heard that this is often thought of as poetry between God and his people or Christ and his church. I wonder how many other people (both women and men too) think about Jesus as the alive returning bridegroom and yourself or ourselves as Jesus’ bride? For example I have some views of Jesus when I pray to or worship him and in the past that I would picture in my head, it was of (I guess from some paintings I’ve seen) of him as a shepherd or him praying in the garden, or him at the well in Samaria- something like that. Or maybe because the messages I’ve heard that have really moved my heart in UBF have been of Jesus as a good shepherd etc. But over December I started getting interested in Revelation 19, because of an essay my husband was writing on it. And this view of Jesus in this robe is really awesome, and I keep picturing it- even though I don’t think I fully get it. But that may be a tangent because that example is more of Jesus as a warrior, than as a bridegroom. Here is a wikipedia link that has some biblical references that may get some discussion going:

    In Christ,
    Jennifer Stumpf

  2. I’m hesitant to even leave a comment right now, but Jennifer chimed in before me, so I’ll go ahead :) This issue is one of the reasons that I intentionally wrote a book review on Scripture as Communication written by theologian Jeannine Brown. In the theological world, she’s probably as anomalous as an atheist theologian.

    I’ve found it interesting that our ministry implicitly (sometimes explicitly) affirms traditional gender roles in ministry, yet we have Sarah Barry as the ultimate paradigm buster.

  3. Of the top 140 church blog sites, all but 3 have a woman’s name affliated with that blog: http://churchrelevance.com/resources/top-church-blogs/

    John Piper has been blogging for decades (and he added Facebook and Twitter), while his wife began her blog only 1 or 2 years ago.

    My wife is very thoughtful and reflective and she writes down in detail from her daily reading of the Bible and books. I encouraged her to blog whatever she writes down, but to no avail.

    I don’t think it’s UBFriends “problem” that we don’t have more women participating, but a universal condition, I think. But of course we still love our sisters dearly, even if they don’t blog as much as our brothers.

  4. We may not be blogging, but I for one am faithfully reading ( and enjoying)!

  5. Christy Toh

    Most women I know don’t have the shall I say ‘luxury’ of the time to  invest to blog, twitter, facebook etc since we tend to live overly fulfilling lives caring for others.   Perhaps the reason John Pipers wife began to blog two years ago instead of 10 years ago is because her daily routine has settled and she simply has more time to reflect, connect etc.   I often wonder what Jonathon Edwards wife or Martin Luthers wife was doing while they were toiling away writing essay after essay.

    • My wife would probably agree with that. She’s too busy toiling so I’m posting for her. :)

  6. I also don’t think there’s any ‘problem’ with this site. =)  

    There are  4 reasons I could think of why women are not that assiduously writing:

    First, as Christy already mentioned most women (or  young students  – like me) don’t have the  time to blog something. They are too busy with either caring for their families or  inviting and doing biblestudy with students (while students  have to study  all day of course :) ).

    Second,  I think it’s just kind of traditional in UBF that males play the more ‘dominate’ role. On my opinion there are many Korean influences included. According to experience I suggest women generally are more incommunicative and  prefer just  listening, reading and learning.

    Third, similarly there could be a problem of communication. Many female missionaries I know can’t speak English very well although they understand it quite well.  Anyway there are certain inhibitions  on writing long essays  – particularly about difficult theological questions.  (What doesn’t mean women are less intelligent or not able to do so. Personally for me this has been a little problem and the reason why I didn’t write anything in here til now.)

    Fourth, there also might be few female members on UBFriends because it isn’t known by  women at all. E.g. I myself got to know about it when I started  having more mail-contact with Henoch to discuss about theological questions, problems or criticpoints in UBF itself or themes like ‘Christianity and Science?’ When my sisters saw this site  the first time they were very surprised but still pleased about this opportunity to discuss Christian questions.  Unlike men women don’t have  many connections to other Christians who like to discuss about things like how to improve UBF practices, habits and rituals.

    Nevertheless I’m very glad  I’ve been  directed to this site.  I’m enjoying reading  all these articles, comments, discussions etc. And  I thank God He’s using all of you this preciously  by helping each other understanding  His word as well as  increasing our unity in Christ.

    • Welcome Sua! i’m so pleased to read your comment here. Thanks also for having the courage as a German teenaged girl to speak up here and to join the discussion. Once more, welcome! :)